Chapter Three

Posted: September 15, 2013 in Chapters, Love in the ZA
Tags: , ,

     The couple on the closet floor were so absorbed in what they were doing, they didn’t notice her at first. She had time to take in little details, snapshots of the scene before her that would pop up later, when she tried to sleep.

     The way the hall light reflected off Holly’s silver bridesmaid dress, beadwork shimmering where it bunched around her hips. The dress that Maddie had paid for.

     Jack’s hands on Holly’s breasts, kneading as she moved on top of him.

     The look of ecstasy on her best friend’s face, a look she must have made hundreds of times herself while making love to the same man.

     Maybe she made a sound. Maybe they sensed her angry presence. Holly opened her eyes, and in the second before they widened with fear, Maddie saw it.


     It was gone in a flash, but she knew it had been there. The knowledge stoked her rage higher, so that when she finally spoke it was a scream so filled with pain and fury she thought everyone in the building must have heard.

     “What the fuck are you doing?!”

     Holly was off him in a shot, hurling herself to the side while trying to pull down her skirt and hide her exposed chest. Jack scrambled to his feet, a shell-shocked look on his face; he clearly hadn’t anticipated being caught.

     “Maddie!” He stared at her, still breathing heavily. “It’s not…this isn’t what it looks like.”

     Maddie swept her eyes over Holly, taking in her disheveled clothes, smeared lipstick and just-fucked hair. She glared until the other woman lowered her eyes, then shifted her attention back to Jack, staring pointedly at his crotch. He looked down.

     They both eyed the condom hanging limply through his tuxedo’s open fly.

     He looked back up, a deep blush spreading over his face. Maddie said nothing, waiting to see if he would try another lie or apologize, beg for forgiveness. Maybe cry. She hoped he’d cry.

     Instead, he rounded on Holly.

     “You were supposed to lock the door!”

     Letting loose another scream, Maddie launched herself at him. The force of her anger worked with the element of surprise to overcome the size and strength differences between them; he slammed into the back wall of the closet. The crack of his head against the wood paneling filled her with a savage joy. She bared her teeth in a feral grin and grabbed a fistful of his hair, driving his head back again.

     And again.

     He brought his hands up, feebly trying to push her off. She pressed herself against him, pinning him to the wall; this close, she could smell him, a scent so familiar she could pick it out of a crowd – soap, and aftershave, the woodsy kind she gave him every year for Christmas. Only now it was muddled, mixed with something fruity and floral.

     Perfume. Hers.

     She kicked his shin, cackling when he yelped.

     Dimly, she was aware of others screaming. One was surely Holly; the close proximity of the closet made it seem like an air raid siren was going off by her ear.

     “Shut up!” Maddie yelled, still gripping Jack’s hair. His eyes were unfocused, his face blank; she wondered if he had a concussion yet. She slammed his head again. “Shut up, you stupid bitch, shut up!”

     There were hands on her, grabbing her shoulders, pulling her back. She struggled and kicked, digging her nails into Jack’s scalp, but whoever had her proved too strong and she had to let go. She watched as Jack slid to the floor dazed, shaking his head. Blood trickled down his forehead from where she’d scratched him.

     “Maddie!” Strong arms wrapped around her waist, lifted her up and back, out of the closet and into the hall. She continued to squirm, doubling her efforts when she saw Holly go to Jack’s side, pressing a concerned hand to his face.

     “Get away from him!” Her voice sounded unhinged, even to her own ears. “Get away from him or I’ll kill you, I swear to God, I’ll kill you.”

     Someone pushed past her and went to Jack, helping him to his feet. Others closed around her: her mother; Jack’s cousin Bill; Chrissy, her face pale with shock.

     And Marion, who appeared to be twice as furious as Maddie herself.

     “Get her in the choir room,” the older woman snapped. “And you.” She grabbed Holly’s arm and yanked her up, then shoved her away, hard. Maddie cackled again as she lost her balance and tumbled into the coats. “Get the hell out of here.”

     Holly opened her mouth to object, but Maddie didn’t hear what she said; the arms around her tightened and she found herself being carted down the hall. As Jack and Holly left her sight her energy ebbed, and she slumped against the person carrying her.

     “Here we go,” he said, pushing open the choir room door and depositing her inside.

     “Thank you, Blake.” Pressing a shaking hand to her forehead – the headache was really raging now – she dropped into the nearest chair.

     “No problem, Mads.” Jack’s groomsman knelt in front of her, his face full of worry. “Did I hurt you?”

     “No, no, I’m fine.” She inspected her hands and let out a bitter laugh. “Although, look: I broke a nail.”

     “You’re lucky that’s all you broke.” Marion stormed into the room. “You could have killed my son, you know.”

     “Marion,” Maddie’s mother said, following close on the other woman’s heels, “Don’t be ridiculous. Jack is fine.”

     “No thanks to your daughter!”

     “I’m sure there’s a reason-”

     “Of course there’s a reason! Did you see that little tramp?” Marion scowled. “Her panties were still on the floor.”

     Grace trembled, twisting her necklace between her fingers. “Yes…well.” She cleared her throat and looked around desperately. “This is certainly unacceptable-”

     “Unacceptable?!” Maddie started to rise, until Blake put his hand on her shoulder, halting her. “They were fucking in the closet!”

     “Madelyn!” Grace closed her eyes. “Your language!”

     She gaped at her mother. “My what?!”

     Marion put a hand up. “Be that as it may, it doesn’t excuse assault. I could have you arrested.”

     “Nobody is being arrested, Mother.”

     Jack limped slowly into the room, supported on either side by Bill and a man Maddie didn’t know. Chrissy was close behind, with the photographer bringing up the rear.

     “I don’t think we’ll be needing pictures,” Marion said, eyeing the man with disgust.

     “Relax, Mom.” Jack sat gingerly in a chair, staying, Maddie noted, on the other side of the room, as far from her as possible.

     “I told him to come with us; he needs to sit down somewhere.” Jack waved the man in. “Have a seat. Blake will get you some water.”

     Blake looked at Maddie and frowned. She gave him what she hoped was a reassuring smile. “I’m fine. I won’t try to kill anyone while you’re gone.” She winked for good measure, but he only frowned harder.

     “Oh for God’s sake, Blake, just go!” Marion ran a hand through her hair, frustration all over her face. “And get Father Davis. We need to speak with him.”

     “What for?” Maddie asked. “So we can tell him the groom was just caught fucking the bride’s best friend? In the church? He’ll love that.”

     “Language, Madelyn!”

     “SHUT UP, MOM.”

     “Hey.” Chrissy came to Maddie’s side, laying a gentle hand on her arm. “Stop.”

     “Seriously?” Maddie shook her friend off and started to turn away, freezing when an idea hit her.

     “You knew.” She stared at Chrissy. “You knew about them.”

     Chrissy crossed her heart, the age-old signal for truth. “I swear, I didn’t. I had no idea.”

     Maddie couldn’t believe her. “You told me to get Holly’s coat. You sent me right to them!”

     “Maddie, I swear, I didn’t know!” Chrissy seemed on the verge of tears. “Why would I do that to you?”

     Maddie’s head was spinning. She wanted to trust her friend, didn’t really believe that Chrissy had sent her off to stumble upon Jack and his whore bonking in the closet, but she couldn’t dismiss the possibility out of hand either. Everything was such a mess. Today was supposed to be special.

     She looked at Jack, who refused to meet her eyes. “I don’t care what Father Davis says,” she told him, her voice shaking. “You’re going to hell.”

     “That’s enough!”

     Maddie sat back, arms crossed, and met Marion’s hard gaze without flinching.

     “It doesn’t matter,” she told the other woman. “Today is done.”

     Marion sighed. “Madelyn. In 20 minutes 200 people are going to show up at this church, expecting to see you marry my son. What am I supposed to tell them?”

     “That he can’t keep his dick in his pants?”

     The photographer snorted, a laugh that quickly turned into a cough. Marion waited until he’d caught his breath, then continued.

     “You’re in debt. Jack is in debt. I’ve already paid for your honeymoon. Do you really want to waste all of that?”

     Maddie shook her head, unswayed. “I don’t care about the money.” She considered. “And neither do you. You don’t want your snobby friends to find out what he’s done.”

     “That is neither here nor th-”

     Another explosive cough interrupted her. They all turned, waiting for it to subside so they could resume arguing. Instead, the photographer bent double, wheezing.

     “Water,” he rasped, tears streaming down his face as he struggled for breath. “I need-”

     He slid from the chair onto his knees, choking. A fine mist of blood sprayed from his mouth, spattering the choir room floor. Maddie stared at the gleaming droplets, transfixed. Her mother screamed. He collapsed onto his side and gasped once.


     And stilled.

     Chrissy leapt from her chair and ran to his side. She placed her fingers on his neck and pressed, searching for a pulse.

     “Well?” Marion demanded. “Did he pass out?”

     Chrissy looked up, her eyes wide.

     “No,” she said, horrified.

     “I think he’s dead.”

  1. mxcoot says:

    Well I’ll be damned. Very riveting. Can’t wait for next week.

  2. biddywink says:

    Oh my. And so it begins. I can’t wait to read more.

    I really like Maddie’s reaction. At first I was a bit startled by her violence. Then I thought, “hey, if I found my groom shtupping my best friend in the church’s coat room on our wedding day, *I’d* get so angry as to tear both of them limb from limb.” Damn straight, Maddie, you kick his ass!

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